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Animation creators Angel Knight, l-r, Adra Young, and Erika Goode-Perry

Animators get the nod at Gary's Black Film Fest

Contributed By: The 411 News

Letting women and girls explore filmmaking and careers

Gary International Black Film Fest sent out an invitation in March asking women and girls, ages 12 and up, to participate in its 2023 Reel Rundown Fellowship. The lure -- learn animation basics, create short animated films, and receive a $250 stipend.

Animated films have been highlighted since the Gary festival began 13 years ago, but this year organizers took the leap to add an animation fellowship. Toni Simpson, the festival's founder said it was a challenge. "I'm no animator. To take on this undertaking allowed me to grow. I am very proud of what we accomplished. Next year, we are going to do an animation fellowship for men and boys."

The curriculum was designed, directed, and facilitated by Simpson and McKenya Dilworth who led 6 sessions with industry pros from the Cartoon Network and Disney.

Fellowship creators and their works were part of the film fest, held Thursday, October 12 through Sunday, October 15 at Indiana University Northwest.

Fellowships went to 4 first-time short film creators: Roya Usagi Etienne, Junifer Hall, Donna Upshaw and Eboni Zmani. Etienne is 14. Three animation fellowships went to past film festival presenters: Angel Knight, Adra Young, and Erika Goode-Perry.

The program was held online, from June through August, with the fellows exploring basic instructions in animation and in depth interviews with Black animators and writers.

A panel of professional animators discussed their career paths and gave insights on the industry. Among the panelists was Greg Manwaring, a Gary native who has worked with Disney and major studios. He has returned to northwest Indiana and is offering instruction in animation.

First-time short animation creators Donna Upshaw, l-r, Junifer Hall, and Roya Usagi Etienne.

Story Posted:10/17/2023

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